By comparison, all other attributes pale in importance when reflected against the sacred chalice of good health. Indeed, topping the list of life’s great gifts is the endowment of health. Running parallel with feelings of physical well-being is the mental equivalent: an unblemished positive perspective and a strong sense of worth, an appreciation of life’s wondrous bounty, all predicated upon healthiness. By contrast, illness begets feelings of impotence, of lousy luck, and of self-pity – to name but a few – ultimately externalizing into manifestations of lethargy, irritability, and even despair.
Ironically, many of today’s chronic illnesses – diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity – can be countered not only with medication, but with a healthy diet and exercise. Resistance to these measures however, is incredibly strong because human nature resists change as a matter of course, and in this instance the negative mind-set has already begun with the pronouncement of the illness. Additionally, most people who suffer from those illnesses think that they have got the problem solved with the ingestion of the prescribed medication alone, and that further measures are unnecessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, healthy diet and exercise have been shown to diminish and even eliminate the need for any medication whatsoever.
Such cases aren’t rare and out of the spotlight. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was diagnosed with diabetes and was giving himself insulin injections upwards of four times a day. After hearing about the consequences associated with diabetes, he began a diet and exercise regimen that, within three years saw him go from two hundred and eighty pounds to one hundred and seventy pounds, and he no longer requires any type of insulin medication. Exercising all the while, he went from eating fried foods to eating whole grains, rich in fiber. This was an important step because carbohydrates rich in fiber keeps one feeling full longer, cutting out the desire for snacking. He cut out foods high in saturated fats. He started eating portions that provided him the proper caloric intake and had a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. He also reduced his sodium intake, at once lowering his blood pressure and helping him shed a significant percentage of his water retention. All these factors combined to restore Mr. Huckabee’s well-being, both physical and mental. He is currently working on health initiatives to bring these types of balanced meals into the school system of Arkansas, to educate the young about the importance of proper nutrition.
The fact of the matter is that more than half of the population of the United States is obese. While obesity in and of itself isn’t a disease, it is the most prevalent precursor to type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, chronic diseases all. In addition, diabetes is the leading cause of renal failure and, along with high blood pressure, the leading causes of stroke. All told, these diseases will claim the lives of more than eight hundred and forty thousand Americans this year alone. Many of these deaths could be avoided if people would stop resisting the need to change habits and remember how good it was to feel good, of how with a little effort to correct diet and to stick to an exercise regimen, the blessing of life’s bounty are within reach of us all.